A small but impressive exhibition of origami sculptures is currently on display at the Japanese Information and Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. This past Tuesday I attended the opening lecture and demonstration by two well-known origami artists, Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander. Both men have extensive experience in this Japanese art form, and have published numerous books on the subject.
The lecture highlighted origami history and some exceptional examples of contemporary pieces. Afterward, we were treated to a lunch of sushi rolls, and participated in hands-on demonstrations by both gentlemen, making an origami border collie and an origami butterfly.
This year, the Guild of Bookworkers Standards Conference was held in Washington, D.C., so all of my bookmaking friends were in town. Dominic Riley and Michael Burke came two days early and stayed with us in Glen Echo. (Yes, we’re a little out of focus after several glasses of wine.) We spent Thursday afternoon visiting museums, and on Saturday I did a little shopping at the vendors’ market, buying one of Shanna Leno’s beautiful leather book weights.
Saturday evening, Dominic and Michael had me as their guest at the Guilds’ banquet and auction. Terry Belanger, founder of the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, received the Guild’s distinguished member award. Also shown is Jana Dambrosio, a former student in one of my workshops, with her mini pop-up Washington monument. The auction was a big success, and everyone is looking forward to next year’s conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sitting just across the street from each other in downtown Washington, D.C., is the America Association of Colleges of Teacher Education building and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This year’s National Technology Leadership Summit took advantage of this spacial proximity with a special program for the fifteen attending national education association presidents on Wednesday evening at the museum.
NMWA education director Deborah Gaston and I showed artists’ books from the library collection, and I gave a brief hands-on paper engineering session for the presidents, who seemed happy to relax and play after a day of travel. From there we proceeded to a delicious dinner at Ceiba Restaurant which specializes in Latin American cuisine.
The next day the summit began in earnest with the presidents joined by editors from educational technology journals, directors of non-profit foundations, and technology industry representatives. There were 3D printers and digital die-cutters scattered around the conference room, and in the afternoon we broke into teams and took a stab at designing a tiny motor from a given box of batteries, wire, magnets, and miscellaneous parts. Although we discovered that none of those on my team completely understood how a motor worked, the resulting discussion about the distinctions between teaching science and engineering, and how to ensure that classroom projects really did serve to teach STEAM principles was enlightening.
I’m looking forward to ongoing discussions resulting from this year’s summit, and to more exciting ideas for the summit next year. (By that time, the government should be up and running again).
Haystack Mountain School of Crafts clings to the slopes at the base of Deer Ilse, Maine, a series of interconnected wooden pathways, cabins, studios and shared spaces. It was here I spent the past four days with a group of 60 fellow artists as part of a session called New Works. We all won the lottery, putting our names into the pot of former instructors who wanted to return and spend time working on fresh ideas or pushing existing work further. And the weather cooperated by handing us blue skies and great weather for the entire time.
I arrived to find I was rooming with Georgia Deal, also from DC and the Corcoran School of Art. Soon after that, metalsmith Claire Sanford walked by–we’d met at Arrowmont. The rest of the day was filled with similar meetings: new acquaintances, book arts colleagues, past Haystack attendees. Wanting to try a different media, I set up my space in the metals studio since this session encourages artists to try new things. I was ready to begin.
The next morning began with a writing workshop conducted by Marianne Boruch. I was excited to attend, since I’m working on a new book of landscape images and wanted some fresh ideas for how to develop the text. Marianne made her workshops fun and very un-intimidating, and the resulting writing done by everyone in the group was inspiring.
I worked in metals for most of the time, making a bezel for a carneline stone I’d brought with me. Studio assistant Molly Vogel gave excellent instructions on how to proceed.
The time went too quickly, but it’s always a wonder how much work
gets done in a short but dedicated time period spent in such a sublime setting. Thank you to all who made this year’s New Works possible.
The drive from Washington, D.C., to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, only takes about an hour and a half, a route through historic towns and farmland. I headed there this past Wednesday to teach a class on paper engineering and give an evening lecture on the history of pop-ups.
Although I am not usually an early riser, I managed to get up at 5 am and left in plenty of time to afford me a chance to grab a cup of coffee and scope out the Lowes and the local flea market in Chambersburg before the class began at the Grove Family Library.
I was delighted to find that several of my former students from Charles Town, West Virginia, had enrolled in the class, along with Dona, a new student. We had a great day making pop-ups, trying a few experiments that didn’t work (part of the design process), and creating a whole set of successful models.
In the evening I gave a lecture on the history of paper engineering to a large, enthusiastic group of Chambersburgians, members of the Chambersburg Council for the Arts. We also did a short hands-on session of pop-up construction during intermission. I had a delightful overnight stay with Jim and Anne Barton in nearby Scotland, Pennsylvania, and drove home the next day after loading up with local peaches. I’m just about ready to make the pie now. . . .